News: Mick and Marty - Part 3, week 6
Release Date: Friday, November 12 2010, 12:15 PM
AFP Canine trainee handler Federal Agent Mick Simmons and canine recruit Marty completed their first major assessment last week, bringing them one step closer to graduation.
The first component, a practical assessment, was conducted using a variety of operational scenarios to evaluate the skills and abilities of trainee handlers and their canines as a team and independently.
Instructor David McCambridge said Mick and Marty had both performed well in their practical assessment.
"In his practical demonstration of his current abilities Mick is doing quite well," he said.
"Marty has performed up to the standards that we are expecting of a potential detector dog at this stage of the course."
At the canine facility, simulated operational environments are used during training and assessment to replicate the types of work handlers and canines will be required to undertake on a daily basis after they are deployed to airports around Australia.
An operational baggage conveyer belt provides an opportunity for the dogs to become accustomed to working on a moving belt, and a freight area has been designed to simulate a warehouse environment. The facility also has a fully furnished mock three-bedroom house.
Instructor McCambridge said it is important to assess the canine recruits' performance both when target odours are present and in situations where they are not.
"We train the dogs to search over the bags regardless of whether there is something there or not," he said.
"We use a work to reward ratio, so sometimes when the dogs come out they will get a reward and sometimes they won't. That builds the dogs' intent to come out and work for us."
During the assessment, the recruits were tested on their abilities to detect and locate the three target odours introduced during the course so far. A range of control odours such as gravy powder and chicken stock were also distributed throughout the simulated environments.
The second component of the assessment was a theory exam to the trainee handlers' knowledge of canine handling and training, canine health and canine behaviour.
You can follow Mick and Marty on their journey as they train to join the ranks of the National AFP Canine Unit.